As a Leader You’ve Been Gifted to Serve

Why the world needs conscious leaders.

Image courtesy of iStockPhoto

The first and most important choice a leader makes is the choice to serve, without which one’s capacity to lead is severely limited.
Robert Greenleaf

After this last election cycle, we have found ourselves shattering many of our long-held beliefs and processing emotions to be able to move forward in what some may call uncertain times.

What the election reinforced for me is that traditional hierarchical leadership models no longer work. This model includes that the leader title is assigned based upon hierarchy, and it’s assumed that people cater to the title. People also blindly follow what they believe to be charisma instead of looking for substance. This isn’t to say that this applies to all traditional leaders, but we’ve been able to witness it in this election and in the economic turbulence over the past few years with corporate leaders who had to step down.

However, times of turbulence also provide the best opportunity for change and growth. This isn’t a time for apathy and resignation. What we’re seeing is nature in action. The seed is pushing through soil, cumbersome at times, but still growing into something astonishing. That’s how I view the call to change for new leaders to step forward.

It’s time for new leaders who recognize that they’ve been presented with a gift to serve. No longer is it about pushing your own personal agenda, expanding your power or expecting others to follow you without having earned the leadership title. We’ve seen this leadership model called servant leadership, conscious leadership or mindful leadership.

What it boils down to is that you put your heart and soul into the role you’ve been given. You bring love for your people, organization, customers and community as a guiding principle. You focus on making a difference — profit with purpose. You also know that social responsibility and using business as a force for good serves both you and your team.

Why does the world need conscious leaders who are willing to serve?

Since traditional leaders haven’t stepped up properly, you can by contributing to changing the human condition. In our current time, we need people who step up to create positive change. These change-makers are possessed by their ideas, committing their lives to changing the direction of their business, community, the environment or the way we do business. They want to do well by doing good. They see the uncertain times as mere obstacles waiting to be overcome. Not in a power-grabbing way, but in how they can further contribute to their mission on this planet.

What you also need to realize is that a leader isn’t just defined as someone designated by hierarchy or corporate structure. You will find leaders at all levels within an organization, as well as in the community they’re involved in. They are seen in all walks of life.

There are wonderful role models who have initiated change, such as Tony Hsieh of Zappos, Blake Mycoskie of Tom’s and Miki Agrawal of Thinx. Yet, we need their leadership model to become more the norm than the exception.

Some traits demonstrated by a leader who comes from a service focus are:

· Knows and can clearly demonstrate what he stands for. He has values that drive him in all his actions. Everyone around him knows this because he walks his talk.

· Has a mission. She has something to accomplish during her life time here. There is a personal legend she wants to leave. There is good she wants to do.

· Focuses on “We” instead of “Me”. He knows that without his team he isn’t anything. He looks to see how his actions impact the community-at-large.

· Shows that her purpose in life isn’t attached to what she’s doing, but is instead how she’s being. She asks: “How am I showing up in life?” Am I proud of who I am?

· Is inner-driven instead of outer-driven. This helps a leader be resilient when criticisms and attacks take place for when he’s looking to make change. He also doesn’t rely on false opinions of those who aren’t supportive.

· Takes full responsibility for all her actions and where she is in life. She isn’t driven by victim mentality or poor me attitude. She knows that she has the power to change things if she doesn’t like them.

· Understands that his energy impacts his team. A leader builds himself up spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. He understands that his team is only as healthy as he is.

The world needs leaders who understand that they’ve been gifted to serve. There is work to be done. Are you up for the task?